Psalms For Life
Looking for content on a specific topic?
Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 93

Sovereign majesty

Whenever chaos threatens, we struggle to believe God is in control and, even more, to live like he is. This psalm’s proclamation of God’s sovereignty is all the more vital because the world so vigorously denies it.

YHWH reigns
robed in majesty.
YHWH has armed himself with power
having established the earth so firmly
that it can never be shaken.
2 Your throne has stood strong
since the start of time—
you’ve reigned from all eternity.
3 The floodwaters raised, YHWH
the floodwaters raised their roaring voice
the floodwaters raised their crashing waves.
4 Mightier than the roar of their billows
mightier than the crash of their breakers
YHWH, who rules over all, is mighty.
5 Your decrees stand firm
your house, YHWH
is characterized by holiness forever.

When chaos comes calling, we immediately wonder if anything we cling to—even God—will hold firm. When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and most of the survivors were taken captive, the Israelites suddenly lost their temple, capital city, Davidic king, homeland, and freedom—most of what had defined them for as long as they could remember. Against that backdrop, this psalm assured them that, tragic though those events were, God’s throne wasn’t even jostled by them. His majesty and power remained untouched.

The creation story pictures God imposing order on earth’s chaotic floodwaters—think tsunamis, tornadoes, and mudslides, all-in-one. The Canaanites and Babylonians each told similar stories about their high god’s subduing earth’s primordial floods. Here the psalmist uses that familiar picture to proclaim that God has always reigned high above earth’s chaos and always will. He hasn’t changed, no matter how weak and vulnerable we feel and no matter how hard it is for us to hear it.

So, the psalmist proclaims God’s reign in circumstances that appear to deny it, and she goes on to say that his laws—God’s ethical laws, no less than the laws of nature—haven’t changed either. He rules his people with justice since holiness perfectly characterizes his royal house and always will.

Jesus, you proclaimed God’s reign in a situation that made many dismiss you as a foolish dreamer. And however hard it is to believe it, given the encroaching chaos today, you still reign supreme. Help us believe your goodness will not fail us, that the wind and waves still know your name. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on this truth:

Mightier than the roar of the floodwaters’ billows
mightier than the crashing of their breakers
YHWH, who rules over all, is mighty.

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.